29 April 2013

Maynard and Emma's BEETLEJUICE BEWITCHMENT

5 months after the fabulous
"Addams Family Awesomeness",
I once again teamed up with my blog buddy, Halloween buddy AND favorite Aussie "EMMA", the mastermind behind the delightfully marvellous blog
"Little Gothic Horrors",
to create another extraordinary blog post full of fun and excitement, this time about "Beetlejuice"!!

First, you get my little review about Tim Burton's excellent second feature, and then you get Emma's excellent write-up, where she goes into detail on the movie's look and style. And now, lean back and enjoy the "Beetlejuice Bewitchment" :-D

BEETLEJUICE

German Title:
Lottergeist Beetlejuice

USA, 1988
Director: Tim Burton

9/10








It was in 1990 or 1991 when my parents signed up for a membership at one of our local video rental stores for their very first time, and I still remember that day. It was a cold and rainy day in Spring when we entered this uber-outstanding world that seemed to consist of millions of VHS covers, a world I completely and utterly fell in love with, a world that became my favorite "hang-out place" during my childhood.

One of the very first movies my parents ever rented was "Beetlejuice", and they only rented it because the owner recommended it to us (Thanks to Mr. Klaus!). The whole family loved it, though my parents weren't as enthusiastic about it as I was. I adored it. "Beetlejuice" blew me away. I didn't understand the whole thing, but that didn't matter because I've never seen so many weird creatures and monsters and ghosts etc, I just HAD to love it


I remember that me, little motormouth, was constantly talking about it, bugging my parents and my schoolfellows with spontaneous exclamations like "Beetlejuice is the best movie of all time!", "Nothing is better than Beetlejuice!" etc. Forgive me, I was 8-9 years old ;-D

Unfortunately, for reasons I'm not sure of, I've never seen it again. It was regularly on TV, the VHS was always on the top rear of the rental store until it shut its doors, and over the years I met a few people who were huge Tim-Burton-fans and loved the hell out of that movie - yet, I never got the chance to rewatch it.
UNTIL NOW!



Yes, more than 20 years after I first saw it, I finally got the chance to see it again - and guess what? Yup, it still kicks ass! "Beetlejuice" is undoubtedly one of the freakiest, most original and most inventive films in history, and I guess it's also Burton's best film to date (next to "Ed Wood" and "Sweeney Todd"). Who would have thought that the afterlife could be so much fun?

From the first to the last minute, the audience gets overloaded and blown away by shitloads of eye-gougingly awesome images and visuals, stuff that probably came right out of a super-wacky but also pretty genius mind. Tim Burton is an awkward guy, and I've never been a fan of his persona, but hell, he has one hell of an eye for style, colours and wild, weird imagery.


There's the idyllic country home that gets converted into an architectural nightmare, the Dalí-like parallel dimension that is roamed by bizarre giant sandworms, the quite amusing "afterlife waiting room" or the attic with the gorgeous miniature-model of the town.
We get briefly introduced to many funny ghosts of recently deceased peeps, such as the guy with the shrunken head, the redhead who slit her wrists, the woman who's cut in half, or the "road kill man" who's "feeling a little flat".

The obvious higlight of the movies is "Beetlejuice" (or Betelgeuse) himself. Michael Keaton's performance as the "afterlife's leading Bio-Exorcist" is so fucking awesome, I daresay that it's his best role he ever did. Beetlejuice is a real pain in the ass, an unnerving clown, a whirlwind of tomfoolery, zaniness, rude & crude behavior - and that's exactly why he's so adorable. That, and the fact that he can transform into whatever he wants, such as a huge Beetle-Snake or a "living carousel".


Surprisingly, most of the other actors / characters are equally amazing: Geena Davis (love of my youth) and Alec Baldwin are admirable as the recently deceased and pretty helpless couple, Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O'Hara are fantastic as uber-odd couple, Winona Ryder (another love of my youth) is simply god-like as angst-ridden teen goth, and Glenn Shadix is outrageous as grumpy interior designer.

Other highlights: Davis / Baldwin transforming into skeletons, the green-light door, the car crash, Dante's Inferno room, every single make-up effect, every single special effect, and the infamous "Banana Boat (Day-O)" scene.
 

A wonderful 80s classic, a horror-comedy masterpiece, a movie without equal. Beetlejuice rocks!!

Wiki ~ Imdb



...and now it's Emma's turn!

I love Beetlejuice! I loved it from the first moment I saw it, which I think was around 1992, as a video rental. I have watched it many times since then, and I never tire of it. It is amongst a handful of my all-time favourite movies.

(Beetlejuice Concept Art)

It's hard to overestimate the influence of Beetlejuice. Tim Burton's aesthetic was indelibly stamped upon popular culture with that film and you don't need to look very far to see how it has inspired many artists and designers. In a recent interview with Los Angeles Times Hero Complex, Michael Keaton, who played Betelgeuse himself, described the movie this way:

“From an art perspective, I don’t know how you get better than ‘Beetlejuice.’ In terms of originality and a look, it’s 100% unique. If you consider the process of taking something from someone’s mind — meaning Tim — and putting it on the screen, I think that movie is incomparable.”

Even more extraordinary is that Beetlejuice manages to be the very definition of a feel-good movie and yet a sweet, loving couple, desperate to start a family, die in an automobile accident within the first 10 minutes, and it is utterly chock-full of corpses in various states of decay and dismemberment. It is an amazing fusion of darkness, explosive colour, humour, horror, fashion, art and music.


Beetlejuice may have some very '80s elements like big hair, Laura Ashley prints, and high-end Japanese designer fashion, but somehow the mix of the Maitland's rustic wardrobe with the avant-garde pretensions of Delia's clothes, and Lydia's goth ensembles, create a visual potpourri that transcends the decade it was made. Even the choice of Harry Belafonte's infectiously joyful calypso tunes for the movie soundtrack add to its timeless quality. I recently read some criticism of Beetlejuice suggesting the special effects were terribly dated now. In fact, Tim Burton intended the special effects to resemble the style of the B movies
he grew up with:


"I wanted to make them look cheap and purposely fake-looking."

With the proliferation of slick CGI effects today, the crude stop-motion animation, prosthetic makeup and puppetry in Beetlejuice take on an even greater charm.


But I think what ultimately makes Beetlejuice an enduring classic is its theme of tolerance and acceptance. In reality, the worlds of people like the Maitlands and the Deetzes would hardly be likely to overlap. Delia and her decorator, Otho, are openly contemptuous about what they perceive as the Maitland's complete lack of style, while the deceased, yet houseproud, Barbara and Adam, are in turn horrified by the transformation of their cosy New England home into a piece of modern art. Attitudes begin to change, however, as the Maitland's affection grows for neglected and angst-ridden teen, Lydia Deetz. Betelgeuse unwittingly facilitates the eventual accord between the two families, when they are forced to team up against him.


The compromise between the Maitlands and the Deetzes is humorously, and somewhat poignantly, summed up in the closing moments of the film, as Charles Deetz reads the companion literature to the Maitland's, Handbook for the Recently Deceased: The Living and the Dead - Harmonious lifestyles and peaceful co-existence.

For me, Beetlejuice is not just the ghost with the most,
but also the movie with the most!



In case you missed it, check out the "Addams Family Awesomeness"
on my blog
and on Emma's blog!

28 April 2013

MAMA (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

MAMA

Spain / Canada, 2013
Director: Andrés Muschietti
(as Andy Muschietti)

5/10










Aside from the fact that "Mama" is just another run-of-the-mill Guillermo-Del-Toro-produced horror flick (let's face it: they all look like "The Orphanage"), it's also an extremely flawed movie that feels rushed and almost unfinished - which is very sad. The trailer looked great and the short film on which it is based, is simply amazing (Review here!).


"Mama" starts out thrilling and suspenseful, but ends up frustrating and annoying. The first half is already full of flaws [no-one is able to find two kids who "hide" in an easily accesible cabin by a lake for 5(!!) years / three people in a massive car crash, and the only thing that breaks are a pair of glasses / cherries are the only food you need to survive in the "wilderness" / Mama waits for months until she finally decides to take the children back to the cabin, and we don't know why she waits that long],
but I was able to ignore all this stuff due to the amazing acting (a powerful and super-hot Jessica Chastain, strong performances by the two impressive child actresses Megan Charpentier & Isabelle Nélisse, a solid Daniel Kash), the intense pacing, Fernando Velázquez' beautiful cinematography, a very well composed score, some ace-looking CGI, and a few really, really scary scenes.

Then, in the second half, things are getting more and more weird, illogical, dumb and downright frustrating:
- We get to see Mama and she looks unintentionally laughable and completely unscary. Her backstory is also unoriginal, she occassionally makes kids crawl out of windows for absolutely no apparent reason, and she occassionally possesses people, so she can drive around with their cars.
- Two utterly stupid characters each decide it's best to walk to a haunted forest-cabin at sunset, so that they arrive in the dead of the night. One of them (who just left the hospital without telling anyone about it) arrives at the cabin at the exact moment his girl arrives there, and both aren't surprised about that. Duh!


- The worst thing: the ending. My goodness, what the fuck was that?? After 10 minutes of Jessica Chastain and her kids "fighting" against Mama on a cliff (a lame and tiresome scene), Mama finally takes one of the kids, jumps off the cliff and they both transform into a huge swarm of moths. I mean... WTF??? I could hear many, many frustrated sighs from the audience at that moment.

Final advice: watch the short fim, ignore the feature film. Nuff said.

26 April 2013

STOKER (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

STOKER

German Title:
Stoker - Die Unschuld endet

USA / UK, 2013
Director: Park Chan-wook

10/10








When Asian directors go to America to shoot English-language films for an English-language audience, it mostly ends in a cinematic disaster. Look at Hideo Nakata ("The Ring 2"), Fruit Chan ("Don't Look Up"), or Takashi Shimizu ("The Grudge 1&2"). Fortunately, that is not the case with Park Chan-wook. I'm not an expert of his work and I've only seen three of his movies ["Oldboy", "Thirst" and the 'Cut'-segment in "Three: Extremes"], and although these are three really, really fantastic works of art... I can't help saying that I liked "Stoker" a lot more.

"Stoker" is the first movie this year that completely and utterly blew me away. My expectations weren't that high. The trailer looked interesting and the plot sounded cool, but I wasn't really into it - and then I sat there in the theater, when suddenly the movie came up to me and hit me like a Tsunami. Chan-wook created a stylish, intense, unsettling, emotional and thought-provoking tour-de-force, perfect from the breathtaking opening until to the powerfully brutal last shots.


The movie is basically a psychological mystery-thriller, a bit in the vein of Hitchcock's 40s / 50s murder mysteries, but way darker, way more intriguing and way more bizarre, thanks to the captivating plot, the highly intelligent and masterfully crafted screenplay by Wentworth Miller (yup, the one from "Prison Break"), and the incredibly powerful visual language of Chan-wook's long-time partner Chung Chung-hoon who provides us with a staggering and stunningly detailed cinematography, at times so awesome, I actually haven't seen anything like that before. Plus: another fascinatingly beautiful score by the great
Clint Mansell.

Chan-wook handles his cast with great skill and bravura. Mia Wasikowska's acting is intense as hell, her mimics reminded me a lot of goddess Isabelle Huppert. Matthew Goode gives the most impressive psychopath since Anthony Perkins in "Psycho", Nicole Kidman delivers one of her best performances in a long time, and Jacki Weaver is simply fabulous as talky but suspicious aunt.


Highlights: the erotic piano-scene, the weird shower-masturbation, every single scene with the little spider, every single scene in the creepy cellar, the pencil attack, the phone-booth kill, Kidman's monologue about "why we have children", and the superbly suspenseful finale.

"Stoker" is an absolutely outstanding masterpiece and so far, one of the greatest movies this year. It will leave you stoked.

25 April 2013

DARK SKIES (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

DARK SKIES

USA, 2013
Director: Scott Stewart

8/10











I didn't like Scott Stewart's first film "Legion", but I'm one of the few who really, really loved "Priest" (I even bought the German Special Edition DVD and I cry everyday for the fact that there probably will never be a sequel), so I was fully excited for his newest film "Dark Skies" - and you know what? Yeah, I loved it too!

"Dark Skies" is undoubtedly the best alien-abduction-themed movie since Eduardo Sánchez' immensely underrated "Altered", though its look and it style reminded me more of the 90s TV mini-series "Intruders" (anyone remembers that?). I admit the story isn't exactly original, but due to a gripping script, many cool twists and Stewart's captivating direction, it comes off as a superb horror/sci-fi flick that stands out in that sub-genre.


"Dark Skies" is slow and calm, but at no time boring, thanks to a stunning build-up that gets more and more intense as it moves along, many extremely suspenseful sequences and a few uber-creepy scenes that scared the living hell out of me (especially the bird attack and the scene where we get to see one of the aliens standing on the bed). The suburban locations were filmed in a beautiful but kinda unsettling way, the whole cinematography is eerie and spooky (David Boyd, "The Walking Dead") and the uncanny score is effective and intriguing (Joseph Bishara, "Insidious").

What's best is that all the characters here are completely likable. I felt for them and I cared for them, from start to end. A nice and sympathetic All-American family, very well played by Josh Hamilton and the beautiful Keri Russell (parents), Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett (kids). Also great: J.K. Simmons as formidable UFO expert.


A great surprise that gave me one hell of a good time. Can't wait for Stewart's next film!!

Wiki ~ Imdb

SEVERANCE (2010)

SEVERANCE
(25minute short)

Canada, 2010
Director: Dany Gehshan

4/10










"Severance" (not to be confused with Christopher Smith's horror comedy of the same name) is a Canadian short film about an arrogant business prick whose life turns upside down when he realizes that there's a second version of him living his life for him.

What could have been a nice and neat Twilight Zone episode, turns out to be a trite and tedious dullfest without any tension or suspense whatsoever. The script is cool (aside from the predictable ending) but director Gehshan completely fails to turn it into something worthwhile. Plus: score and cinematograhy are decent, but not decent enough to hold up the film.


The acting is pretty good (Ash Catherwood, Ginette Gaskin and the fantastic Robert Nolan in a minor role), and the editing looks very professional
- but overall, I just didn't like it.

24 April 2013

MANBORG / BIO-COP (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

MANBORG

German Title:
Manborg - Retter der Zukunft

Canada, 2011
Director: Steven Kostanski

7,5/10








Hell yeah, what a badass blast of a movie! Steven Kostanski, one member of the Astron-6 collective ("Father's Day"), brings us one of the most "eighties" movies I've ever seen: "Manborg", a freaking hilarious throwback to the golden VHS-days of "Terminator" ripoffs and lowest-budget post-apocalyptic flicks.


With a budget of about 1.000 Canadian dollars (!!!), Kostanski created an absolutely fabulous trashfest that entertained me way more than I expected, packed with goofy-looking but charming special effects, ridiculous-looking monsters, stunningly inventive futuristic settings, cool retro synths and tons of outrageously funny one-liners ("It's not about the killing, it's about family." / "It's never to late... to be a hero." / "The power of the human spirit will never be obsolete.")

Every single character is a total hoot: Matthew Kennedy as human cyborg "MANBORG", Ludwig Lee as hilariouly dubbed martial-arts expert "#1-MAN", hottie Meredith Sweeney as tough chick "MINA", Conor Sweeney as Martin-Gore look-a-like "JUSTICE", Adam Brooks in a double role as Neil-Tennant look-a-like "DOCTOR SCORPIUS" and uber-villain "COUNT DRACULON", and Jeremy Gillespie as the lovestruck mutant "THE BARON".


If you're into super-silly stuff like "The Taint", "The FP" or "Karate Robo-Zaborgar", this is exactly your movie!




BIO-COP
(5minute fake-trailer)

Canada, 2012
Director: Steven Kostanski

10/10






 After the screening of "Manborg" at the Fright Nights Festival, we got to see this little fake-trailer for an 80s flick called "Bio-Cop" that looks like a wacky mix of "Toxic Avenger", "Maniac Cop" and "Street Trash" - and oh my goodness, I loved the hell out of it! Actually, the audience loved it sooo much, they had to show it a second time two days later.

"Bio-Cop" is fucking awesome and I strongly hope that Kostanski turns it into a feature. 5 minutes of gloriously gruesome melting and gore effects, campy characters, awesome 80s sound effects, trashy settings and an amazing voice-over that provides us with badass lines like "You have the the right to remain dead!" and "Bio-Cop - part cop, part nightmare!"


Seriously, one of the greatest fake-trailers I've ever seen. I MUST have the DVD, so I can watch it over and over and over :-)

Imdb

22 April 2013

The EVIL DEAD Trilogy / WITHIN THE WOODS / EVIL DEAD 2013 (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

THE EVIL DEAD

German Title:
Tanz der Teufel / Der Totentanz der Teufel

USA, 1981
Director: Sam Raimi

10/10








I think we can all agree, that Sam Raimi's debut "The Evil Dead" is one of the greatest and most impressive horror films of all time. With a budget of about $375.000, Raimi created a film so thrilling and creepy, so gory and brutal, and also incredibly funny and entertaining, it will forever stand the test of time as one of the most unique, most amazing horror-experiences.


I remember back in primary school, there were several kids talking about "Evil Dead" all the time, saying they heard it's the most frightening film of all time, that you die while watching or at least get insane, that the actors all got killed during the shoot etc. etc.
Of course, all bullshit. However, after buying a mildly cut VHS-version and watching it at home for the very first time (end of the 90s), I ended up a little disappointed because I really expected it to be the most frightening thing ever. Fortunately, there was something so fascinating about it, I watched it again, and again, and again until I was completely and utterly addicted to it.


Everything about "The Evil Dead" is almost pitch-perfect. Everything. Of course, the acting often is cheesy and the low budget is very obvious, but that doesn't matter because it just adds to the movie's incredibly gritty, incredibly gripping atmosphere which is so mesmerizing and intriguing, I guess only Carpenter would have been able to create something similarly hypnotic.

The inventive camera work is absolutely outstanding and is actually fully responsible for most of the movie's tension, be it all the amazing scenes with the demonic force speeding to the woods, all the surreal "dutch angles" or the infamous vas-o-cam shots. Joseph LoDuca's bizarre score is eerie as fuck (epic strings, awesome synths), the editing is terrific, the cabin settings are eerie as hell and the make-up / gore effects are all mindblowingly awesome.


Highlights... well, almost too many to mention, but I give it a try: possessed Cheryl banging at the cellar door, possessed Linda sitting on the floor, laughing, laughing, laughing, and of course the disgusting death of possessed Shelly (disturbing screams, spitting out milk-like liquids).
There's the surreal scene in the cellar where lightbulbs, pipes and electrical outlets start to bleed, the bizarre scene where the clocks stop and Cheryl loses control over her hand, the infamous and still quite unsettling tree-rape sequence, and of course the uber-gory, uber-insane climax (possessed Scotty gets his eyes gouged out, Cheryl hitting Ash with a fire poker, rapidly decaying bodies, blood, slime and bones).

As crazy as it may sound, but I think "The Evil Dead" is a pure fucking masterpiece.

Wiki ~ Imdb



EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN

Alternate Title:
Evil Dead II

German Titles:
Tanz der Teufel II - Jetzt wird noch mehr getanzt / Der Totentanz der Teufel 2 ...der Tanz geht weiter

USA, 1987
Director: Sam Raimi

7,5/10




"Evil Dead 2" is a very well made and excellently entertaining semi-sequel; funny and surprising from start to finish - but in my humble opinion it just can't hold a candle to the original. I'm always shocked when horror fans claim that it's better than the first part, because: No! It's not (IMHO).
Of course, Raimi did a superb job on taking Ash and the Cabin to a never-seen-before level of uber-absurdity, but there are several reasons why I always thought that it doesn't fully work, and it's actually more of a mess:

- It's at times too similar to the first part.
- There's nothing creepy, gritty or remotely atmospheric about it.
- It's often way too over-the-top.
- We never get to know if it's a remake, a spoof or a sequel, something that will always bother me.
- It often doesn't get the balance right between horror-comedy, parody
and basic horror.


Now that I got this off my chest (shitstorm plz!), I get to the good stuff: Bruce Campbell! Bruce Campbell!! Bruce Campbell!!! This guy is sooo fucking awesome and it's simply astonishing to see what an awesome actor he became since "The Evil Dead". Campbell delivers an absolutely exceptional one-man-show that is beyond all comparison. Hilarious grimaces, maniacal laughter, goofy reactions - it's such a joy to watch him acting the shit out of his role.

There's shitloads of terrific make-up / special / practical effects, and huge amounts of very memorable scenes (Ash versus his own hand, Ash getting his chainsaw-hand, the whole cabin laughing at Ash, goofy-looking possessed Ed flying around, possessed Henrietta transforming into uber-fat creature with Giraffe-like neck, possessed Ash, flying eyeballs, blood showers, and the outrageous climax with Ash travelling back in time to 1300 A.D.)


Cinematography and soundtrack are top notch, lighting and editing are fine, script and direction are excellent, and yeah... it's a really great film, but I've never been that much of a fan of it, and I never will.

Wiki ~ Imdb



ARMY OF DARKNESS

Alternate Titles:
Army Of Darkness: The Medieval Dead / Evil Dead 3: Army Of Darkness / Bruce Campbell vs. Army Of Darkness

German Titles:
Die Armee der Finsternis / Der Totentanz der Teufel 3 / Evil Dead III - Die Armee der Finsternis

USA, 1992
Director: Sam Raimi

9/10


Yes! This is my kind of shit! "Army of Darkness", the third part of the "Evil Dead" trilogy has almost nothing to do with its predecessors, and I guess that's why I love it so much. It's obviously not as amazing as the first part, but IMO it's definitely lightyears better than the second part.

Sam Raimi and his brother / writing partner Ivan Raimi take Ash out of the cabin and throw him through a time portal into a medieval kingdom where he has to fight against nasty-looking "Deadites", dangerous books and an army of skeletons.


Where the second part tried to be a mix of horror and comedy, "Army" goes fully into fun-mode. Nope, this isn't horror anymore, this is a pure and utterly mad uber-comedy, campy as hell, packed with golden slapstick and the most hilarious scenes I've ever seen.

Bruce Campbell is once again absolutely god-like, because here, he turns Ash into an outrageously funny badass who delivers shitloads of uber-excellent one-liners:
"Name's Ash. Housewares." / "Alright, you primitive screwheads. Listen up. This... is my BOOMSTICK!!" / "Yo she-bitch. Let's go!" / "Hail to the King, baby." / "Buckle up, bonehead, 'cause you're goin' for a ride." / "Gimme some sugar, baby." / "Well, hello Mr. Fancypants." / Now whoa whoa whoa right there,
spinach chin!" etc.


The humor here is bizarre but very unique and very laugh-worthy, at times even more over-the-top than in part 2, but due to the movie's overall silliness, I had no problem with this kind of humor.
One of the movie's funniest scenes is the one with Ash's small reflections who crawl out of a broken mirror and torture him with forks and guns; one of the refelections gets into his body and rapidly grows out of his throat Siamese-twin-style. Hell yeah!

Other hysterical highlights: Ash versus the three Necronomicons [Klaatu... Barada... N... (cough cough)], Ash getting his face 'poked' by some skeletons, the fight in the pit, the '73 Oldsmobile with propeller and armor, and the brilliant S-Mart finale.


It's full of terrific special effects, super-cool creatures (Bad Ash, possessed witches, all the deadites and the fucking badass skeletons) and many superb-looking settings (haunted forests, castles, windmills, cemeteries).
The cast is great and highly entertaining (Richard Grove, Embeth Davidtz, Ian Abercrombie + awesome Bridget Fonda cameo), soundtrack and camera work are superb.

If there ever will be a 4th Evil Dead movie, I'd prefer it to be an
"Army of Darkness 2". I'm serious!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Btw, it's simply insane how many different versions of the movie exist (look here). I own the uncut 85minute German MGM-DVD which includes 15 minutes of really good deleted scenes, including the way creepier original opening, the longer and also way creepier windmill scene, Ash knocking down Arthur, and Ash re-meeting Henry the Red.


My version sadly doesn't include the darker alternate ending, but thanks to YouTube, I can watch it over and over whenever I want - although I actually prefer the original S-Mart ending, because it fits much better.





WITHIN THE WOODS
(30minute short)

USA, 1978
Director: Sam Raimi

7/10










Before "The Evil Dead", there was a 30minute short film called "Within The Woods", created by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell to garner potential investors' attention. It was featured before late screenings of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" in a Detroit theater in 1979, but due to music rights issues, it never got officially released. Fortunately, a bootlegged version of the film is easily available on the Internet. Sound and picture quality are horrid, but you can see and hear enough to enjoy it.


Made with a budget of about $1.600, Raimi was able to shoot a kick-ass little movie, packed with scenes and shots that were later re-used in "Evil Dead 1 & 2" (running from the dark force, deadite biting off his own hand, porch swing banging against the house...).
It's tense and atmospheric, well directed and well shot. The actors deliver solid performances, there's lots of gore and cool make-up effects, and the gripping score is just excellent.

If the quality would be better, I'm sure I could give it a higher rating. Fingers crossed that we'll see it properly released sometime in the future...

Wiki ~ Imdb



EVIL DEAD
(Remake)

USA, 2013
Director: Fede Alvarez

4/10










 It's not "the most terrifying film" I ever experienced because there was nothing terrifying about it... apart from being terrifyingly bland. Fede Alvarez' reboot of one of the greatest horror films of all time is exactly what I kinda expected: an unnecessary and completely superfluous film, unnerving and frustrating. [Note: I went into "Evil Dead" after weeks of avoiding seeing any trailers / clips, avoiding reading reviews / critics, so that there can't be any false expectations. Didn't help.]

Alvarez tried hard to make a film that lives up to the original, but he definitely tried WAY too hard. Yes, it's packed to the brim with the most gorgeous gore and blood and violence I've seen in quite some time (vomiting blood, cutting off arm with an electric knife, licking a box-cutter, nailgun attack, the "blood-rain"...), and yes, due to lots of rain and thick fog, the film possesses a haunting and pretty unique atmosphere, and yes the wood / cabin settings look stunningly gritty...
So yes, it's definitely one of the best-looking and visually most stunning horror films in recent years. Oh, and I loved Roque Baños ("The Machinist") intense score, especially because of the creepy air-raid siren.


Yet, that all doesn't help when...
...you get five characters that are all terribly unlikable and annoying, especially the Jesus-guy, the supposed-to-be-drug-addicted girl (that looks like she never did any drugs apart from maybe a few joints), and her batshit stupid brother. The acting is neat, but there was absolutely no chemistry between the characters and I couldn't help NOT caring about any of them. I wished them all to die.

...there is hardly any tension or suspense, and a shocking absence of anything remotely scary (aside from a few rather cheap jump scares). The original managed to be thrilling, entertaining, disturbing and frightening at the same time. The remake is just dull and trite, thanks to a dreadful script that is too busy with focussing on profanities and obscenities, and dispensable rules from a way too stylish-looking "Book of the Dead", and a director that is too busy creating money shots and trying to give us an "oldschool Evil Dead" feeling.
No offense, Alvarez is a great short-film director (watch the awesome "Panic Attack" now!!), but my gawd, he should have never been allowed to direct something like this.


The build-up is boring as hell, the pacing is unbelievably weak (lots of tedious scenes, lengthy and uninteresting dialogue sequences), the make-up of the quasi-Deadites looks too polished and makes them look like they're members of some Scandinavian metal band, and it's full of unexplained plot points and unanswered questions (What's with the Innsmouth-like people in the beginning? What's with the dead cats in the cellar? Who is the girl in the woods? Why do the self-injured don't bleed to death?)

Other things that bugged me: some obvious and meciocre-looking CGI effects (several gore shots, the fire at the end), the tree-rape was immensely disappointing, and... goddammit, the whole movie takes itself way, WAAAY too serious.


Just because it's gory, doesn't mean that it's good. "Evil Dead" can suck my boomstick.

"RAW" (Fright Nights Festival 2013)

RAW

DVD Title:
Raw - Der Fluch der Grete Müller

Alternate International Title:
Raw - The Curse of Grete Müller

Germany, 2013
Director: Marcel Walz

0/10





Congrats to Mr. Walz for creating another redundant piece of found-footage-crap, a movie as terrible as similar garbage like "The Tapes", "Hauted Poland" or "Gacy House", a movie I could easily call one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

"Raw" is basically a lame-ass imitation of "Blair Witch Project", with four god-awful actors playing four god-awful characters, with some embarrassing camera work that could be described as "earthquake-cam", with a plot as predictable as sunset, and sooo full of stale and annoying ff-clichés, it makes you sick (night vision, one character disappears, weird noises and laughing children in the night, you don't get to see the creature until the last few minutes...).


Also, the editing is horrendously amateurish, the pseudo-eerie score doesn't fit at all, and the paperthin plot is told in a totally incompetent way. I can't believe that this is already the 11th(!) feature of this director. Stay away! There's nothing remotely watchable about it.

17 April 2013

The Weird World of George Pavlou: UNDERWORLD / RAWHEAD REX / LITTLE DEVILS

UNDERWORLD

Alternate Titles:
Transmutations / Clive Barker's Underworld / Underworld Diaries


UK, 1985
Director: George Pavlou

2/10







George Pavlou is a UK-born and London-based director of three feature films and several short films between 1980 and 1993. His first feature was "Underworld", a terribly boring gangsters-vs-mutants horror-atrocity, based on a screenplay by the great Clive Barker.


According to CliveBarker.info, Pavlou met Barker at a dinner party where they talked about their love for horror movies, and eventually decided to team up creating their own movies.
"He wanted to direct, I wanted to write (...). It seemed a perfect match as we could learn the ropes together - the basis being the possibility of us both becoming a unit."

Well, looks like it didn't turn out the way Barker hoped for. In fact, "Underworld" is probably one of the most forgettable horror flicks of the 80s. The whole thing is a badly directed sleeping pill of a movie, and apart from an interesting opening sequence, 2-3 mildly eerie scenes in the middle and some ok acting, everything about it just sucks.


There's absolutely no tension, suspense or atmosphere, the masks of the 'Transmutations' look shoddy as hell, the gangster-costumes look laughable, the camera work is dull, and about 90% of the dialogue is absolutely unbearable ["Who are you?" - "This is Dudu" - "But my friends call me Shitface."].
Final verdict: epic fail!




RAWHEAD REX

Alternate Title:
Clive Barker's Rawhead Rex / RawHeadRex

German Titles:
Clive Barker's RawHeadRex - Er ist das Grauen / Clive Barker's RawHeadRex - Die Rückkehr des Dämons

UK / Ireland / USA, 1986
Director: George Pavlou

4/10



To make amends for fucking up Clive Barker's "Underworld" screenplay, Pavlou thought it would be the best to fuck up another of Clive's screenplays. The result: "Rawhead Rex", an incredibly silly and imbecile adaptation of the "Book of Blood"-story of the same name.

The entire film is basically a slap in the face of every Barker-fan and an insult to Barker himself, but due to its unbelievable goofiness and some surprisingly good pacing, it comes off as decently entertaining and somewhat watchable
creature-feature.



The "Rawhead"-monster is obviously the worst thing about it: with its goofy rubber-mask and its laughable roaring, it's simply impossible to take it seriously. The way it runs and jumps and kills people, it actually looks more like an angry wrestler on drugs or bad steroids.

Also, the story is all over the place with many plot holes and loose plot points, most of the dialogue is simply pathetic ["He doesn't care about you! When it's finished, what will it do with you?" - "Kill me... I HOOOOPE!!"], the acting is weak, and there are tons of ultra-cheesy special effects. Like "Cool Ass" Brian said, the climax is more or less an 80s version of "The Manitou" :-)


At least, it has a few really tense scenes and some top notch gore, all the Irish filming locations look just beautiful, and a few scenes are simply great (Rawhead's very first attack, the severed arm, the killing of the boy).
Also, we shall not forget that "Rawhead Rex" was the main reason for Barker to take matter in his own hands and create "Hellraiser", the amazing film adaptation of his own novel "The Hellbound Heart". So, thanks for that, Mr. Pavlou ;-D

Wiki ~ Imdb



LITTLE DEVILS: THE BIRTH

German Title:
Little Devils - Die Geburt des Grauens

Canada, 1993
Director: George Pavlou

2/10








After Clive Barker impressed millions of horror fans with "Hellraiser" (1987) and the flawed but still pretty cool "Nightbreed" (1990), Pavlou finally seemed to understand that he'd never be able to create a decent Barker-adaptation (nor a decent film). He stopped directing and disappeared into thin air.


In 1993 he returned to the directors chair for one last time with one of the 90s's most uninteresting and obviously most forgotten DTV flicks: "Little Devils: The Birth", a dreadfully dull and incredibly unoriginal knock-off of 80s monster trash like "Ghoulies" or "Munchies". A movie that looks as shitty as "Lurkers", and is as unfunny as "My Mom's A Werewolf".

The whole thing is packed with shallow and annoying characters, played by lame actors who constantly spit out unnerving dialogue lines like "Oh, there's rats. I hate rats. They're as bad as politicians." (bah dum tss).


There's absolutely no tension or atmosphere, script and direction are horrid, the plot has more holes than a fishing net, the special effects look embarrasingly bad, and the Gargoyle-like creatures are simply laughable. 1 point for the super-hot Nancy Valen, 1 point for the entertaining synth score. That's it.
Pavlou never directed a feature film again and we should be happy for that.

P.S: What's with the title? Did they really thought they could turn this into a franchise??

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